Tuesday, August 03, 2010
More than ten years ago I used my vast powers as a corporate tool to organize a regular blood drive at my company. As we have grown from piddlin' to, well, big, the drive has become an important source of donations for the Princeton HealthCare System. I gave blood today for the second time this year, and learned that there is a fairly severe local shortage. Donations of blood slow down dramatically during the summer, even as traumatic injury hits a seasonal peak.
The Red Cross has a great page of 50 factoids about blood donation, and a button that takes you to a collection center in your area. Thirty-eight percent of Americans are allowed to donate, but only about 3% do. That means that at least 35% of Americans are actual or potential free-riders. Don't be one of them!
Can't - They have no way to test my blood for possible exposure to "Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy" (BSE), AKA "mad-cow disease." I lived for 4 years in rural Britain (East Anglia-Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire) during the 90's. They cannot take the chance that I'm some kinda latent carrier or something. Too bad, cause I tried to give regularly before then, even though I HATE the feeling of that needle in my arm...
Cas, you are a victim of idiotic regulation. The risk of contracting vCJD from somebody in your circumstances is a lot less than 1 in 4 million, which is the incidence among lifelong Brits. Only eight million Americans give blood every year. If every single one of them lived in the UK during the "mad cow" crisis, the odds of an infection and transmission of same would STILL be vanishingly small. This is one subject on which the FDA is literally crazed.
I hope that those who get tattos can evetually give blood again. I kind of get the artistry of tattos but I couldn't do anything artisitic to my body that would keep me from donating blood. The gift of life it too important.
I was in India, Bangladesh, and Sumatera a couple years back, and taking malaria prophylaxis, so no go for me.
Plus, as a result of having had Hep A and B immunizations my blood is full of antibodies that give the Red Cross the galloping fantods, so no way, Jose.
The thing is, my job keeps me up to date with nearly every available vaccination, including anthrax, so one might think that I'd be a dream donor. Not so.
I suppose they can cite plenty of excellent reasons to exclude me from the pool of potential donors, but the fact is my blood is much safer than just about anyone walking in off the street.
i give blood when i can, but it's more for my peace-of-mind benefit than any "help society" jive. the **red cross** certainly doesn't look at blood donations as an altruistic thing: 1) do you suppose, when hospitals and blood banks come calling, do you suppose the red cross SELLS it to them, or just - you know - gives it away for free? yeah, me neither. 2) the red cross' policy in re folks with hemachromatosis is instructive: these are folks with excess iron in their blood, who HAVE to be bled regularly to stay healthy. their blood is perfectly safe, perfectly fine for transfusions, but - according to the american diabetes assoc. - "the red cross (...) does not currently accept blood from people with known hemachromatosis. (...) although the blood is universally agreed upon as safe, the RC has ruled that H/C patients - who would ordinarily have to PAY to have their blood drawn - would be getting 'something for free' by donating their blood to the RC, and thus, they won't accept it".
so if THAT's their attitude - and it is - then i'm not much moved when they come moaning about 'not enough donors'.
the answer to the problem is obvious: change the law, and allow people to be paid for their blood, like they do everywhere else. (no blood shortages in china. guess why?) oddly, the RC does not seem in any rush to make this happen. i wonder$ why that i$$??
I'm also not allowed to donate because of mad cow. My dad was stationed in Germany from fall 1986 through summer 1990. That location and time period is included in the "can't donate" list. So, five people in my family - me, my parents and my younger sisters - can't donate. Neither can any of 49 people I graduated HS with, or their parents and siblings. Same goes for every other American service member and their families who were in Europe during the designated period. I know the military is small in relation to total population, but that's a lot of people who aren't allowed to donate.